Although there is a great deal of truth and wisdom in Weizenbaum's message, I believe that he overlooks the reason that SDI would be destabilizing and another step in the Arms race. It is not because of the stated goals of the program (Reagan's March 1983 speech) but because those goals are not achievable. There would be nothing wrong with rendering ICBMs and other weapons obsolete. On the contrary, everyone should want to see every country, city, and town protected by an impenetrable shield that would free it from the fear of the indiscriminate horror that rained down on Nagasaki and Hiroshima. It is because the SDIO efforts will not lead to technology of that sort, that SDI is the things that Weizenbaum says it is. I agree with Weizenbaum that we need to seek non-technological solutions. Technology is not likely to provide solutions in a situation where we oppose a power with equally sophisticated technology. I believe that SDI is one issue where both disarmament and armament supporters could agree. Both sides seek peace through different mechanisms, but neither will find their goals advanced by an untrustworthy "shield". Dave
To: Neumann@SRI-CSL.ARPA Peter: I love your material that's being generated and produced, but I note that it seems to weigh overwhelmingly against the computer. Aren't people sending you any GOOD stuff? Like with the aid of a computer, 27 lives were saved, etc.? Like using the new NEC fingerprint computer, they were able to match the Stalker's finger-prints in 3 minutes, etc? Maybe you need a Call for Good News? Dave
To: RISKS@SRI-CSLA.ARPA Cc: BRANDIN@SRI-AI.ARPA Today's SF Chronicle had a nice article on "Computer Holds Promise in Diagnosing Heart Disease", in greatly reducing the number of false negatives. But even there are significant risks. Suppose you or your doctor trusts the computer program more because it indeed has fewer false negatives, and now you produce a false negative. We are back to the case of the woman who killed her daughter and tried to kill herself and her son because the computer program had falsely produced an "incurable" diagnosis. (See the July 85 issue of Software Engineering Notes.) Well, in the first issue of RISKS I recall saying there has got to be more to this forum than just pointing out negative things. I noted hope from the research community, although one of the agonizing things that we have observed in the ACM Special Interest Group on Software Engineering (SIGSOFT) is the enormous gap between the research community and what is actually being done in practice. For critical systems, the ordinary software development techniques are simply not good enough. Yes, we should of course point out successes. For example, the Shuttle project has had many — along with its much more visible problems. Peter
In a recent issue of PC Magazine, Peter Norton espoused the idea of substituting a faster clock chip to enhance performance. Now, according to the folk on the Info-IBM PC digest, this may create problems. An off the shelf PC AT is composed of components guaranteed to work to IBM spec, e.g. 6 Mhz. If I increase the clock rate, then the whole rest of the machine has to be up to snuff. If not, a part dies and I pay a nasty repair bill. Now if I took Mr. Norton's word as gospel, swapped chips and set my PC AT on fire, would he be liable? How about the publisher?
When evaluating the risks associated with various forms of technology it is sometimes useful to have in hand the available data. The Food and Drug Administration published a study in 1981: An Evaluation of Radiation Emission from Video Display Terminals HHS Publication FDA 81-8153 The ionizing, optical, RF and acoustic radiation from a number of terminals was measured. I will briefly quote some of the conclusions of this study. For ionizing radiation: 3.5 DISCUSSION Sufficient research information is available to estimate a range of risks of injury from ionizing radiation exposure. Delayed disease, such as heritable mutation or cancer, usually forms a basis for the estimation, expressed in terms of the instances of the effect per person per unit of radiation (rad,rem, or R). The risk estimates form a basis for radiation protection guidelines. For a VDT operator, the radiation protection guideline for individuals in the general population is appropriate. The gui
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